In 1950, 17-year-old Samuel Crawford enlisted in the Army. Despite just finishing his junior year of high school, he was sent from Wilmington to the front lines of the Korean War. Five months later, he was declared missing in action.
His family never saw or heard from him again. His only sibling, Rosa Lee Crawford Guy, never had a gravesite to visit to pay her respects.
On Friday, New Castle County leaders unveiled a monument honoring Crawford at the Route 9 Library in New Castle just a few miles from where he grew up.
“She loves her brother and she misses her brother and you all don’t know, you’ll never understand how much this means to her,” said Wilmington City Councilman Sam Guy, Crawford’s nephew. Rosa Lee named her son after her brother who went missing 69 years ago.
Guy said the monument is a promise to remember Crawford. “We’re not going to forget you, and we’re going to put something permanent in place to make sure that people in the future never forget him.”
When Crawford enlisted, he had been attending a segregated school in Wilmington with other black students. Even though President Truman had committed to integrating the armed forces with Executive Order 9981 in 1948, Crawford was sent to a segregated unit at the front on the Korean peninsula.
Crawford’s sacrifice is even more impressive considering he joined “black soldiers in a white army,” said New Castle County Councilman Penrose Hollins, who served two tours in the Army in Korea about a decade after Crawford. “He gave his life fighting for America’s freedom, a freedom America did not fully give him.”
It’s believed that Crawford’s remains are still somewhere in North Korea. Fern Sumpter Windbush with the Dept. of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told Crawford Guy the federal government has not given up looking for Crawford.
“Your brother has not been forgotten and we will keep looking,” she said. “We have the responsibility on behalf of our nation, on behalf of the Dept. of Defense, of providing the fullest possible accounting of all those who are still unaccounted for from our past conflicts.”
Crawford is one of more than 7,600 soldiers still missing from the Korean War.